For many a design consultant, terms like advanced home networking, digital media server, systems design, and structured cabling elicit fear and apprehension. Their technical nature and often behind-the-wall installation often make it difficult for consultants to understand how they work, much less help home buyers understand their value in the home.

Recognizing this unease, Leviton Manufacturing Co., a producer of electrical and electronic products, has launched a new “Build on the Possibilities” program dedicated to helping home builders' design consultants—and consumers—become more knowledgeable about the technologies. The intended end result is more-informed design consultants who can up-sell the heck out of the products and systems, generating more revenue for builders.

Jana Alvino, Leviton's marketing program manager for its integrated networks and controls division, says, “From the feedback from the field, installers and builders were saying design center people don't know how to sell [these products]—it's easier to talk about granite countertops or cherry cabinets than the benefits of whole-home audio.”

To simplify the sales process, Leviton designed product packages that could be augmented by a selection of additional options. For example, the design consultant would work with a home buyer to choose a structured media package, which would address the buyer's phone, fax, Internet, and TV needs. Other entertainment or communication options like multi-room audio or indoor video monitoring could then be added to supplement the basic system.

Marketing collateral adds another layer to the program. Design center consultants receive educational literature that enhances their understanding of the value of the packages and options. Further training by Leviton installers is available as well as merchandising aids to draw attention to the often invisible systems.

Moreover, Leviton supplies the design center with additional brochures targeted to the consumer—a.k.a. the home buyer. Using simple language, each brochure explains Leviton's various electric and electronic systems. Home buyers can learn the basics of structured cabling, multimedia networking, and lighting controls without being overwhelmed by technical jargon. And the take-home collateral materials allow them to review the information as many times as they choose.